Whispers around the Canmore biathlon range about the future of the sport generally come to the same consensus: Julia Ransom is a monster.
Ransom proved the stories were true at the women’s youth world championships, winning her first international medal Saturday, Feb. 25 in Kontiolahti, Finland. The 19-year-old skilled sharpshooter took bronze with a time of 27:24.9 on the 7.5 kilometre course.
“It feels pretty good. I am really excited,” said Ransom. “It was a goal of mine to get on the podium at the world championships, but I definitely did not expect this.”
She was seven seconds behind Estonia’s Grete Gaim, who only missed one shot. Ransom missed two on her final round of shooting.
“I usually tend to go a bit too fast when I’m skiing in packs, but I was in good control all day today,” said Ransom. “It was perfect conditions today and our skis were so fast thanks to our amazing wax techs.”
She followed it up with a fifth-place finish.
Focusing on control and tactics, Ransom kept herself calm in the range, where a new rifle stock allowed her to shoot clean through the first three bouts of shooting.
Her coach, Richard Boruta, gave the team some extra motivation – they were allowed to stay out an extra half hour past curfew for every clean round of shooting and even longer for every medal won.
“I went into the race thinking about that motivation – every medal you get, you get to stay out dancing longer. I’m not sure if my legs were more tired from dancing or skiing,” said Ransom, who earned an extra hour and a half on the town.
The night out was a great relief for Ransom, who moved to Canmore in September and put in a tremendous training block with the Biathlon Training Centre. Her shooting consistency and ski technique has improved in turn, and the results have followed.
If she keeps it up, more European races will be in her future.
“I love hearing the different languages. It’s a chance to test yourself in a different atmosphere and not worry about beating certain skiers,” Ransom said.
She also said her parents encouraged her with lots of notes and emails, as they stayed up until 1 a.m. to watch all of her races online.
“They’ve been really supportive through this. I’d get emails every day about the races, saying ‘that was a nail biter’ ” Ransom said.
The results set her up for a big jump next season, where she could earn a few IBU Cup starts.
“I’ve got a new outlook and enjoy what I do,” Ransom said.
Stuart Harden also distinguished himself on the range. He finished sixth in the men’s 10 km sprint, one spot ahead of Kurtis Wenzel, who grabbed gold the week earlier. Christian Gow was 15th, Albert Bouchard 30th and Aaron Gilmor was 38th in the junior men’s 12.5 competition.
Sarah Beaudry was 20th in the women’s 7.5 km event on Saturday. In the junior women’s category, Audrey Vaillancourt was the top Canadian, followed by Keely MacCulloch (38th), Emma Lunder (44th) and Emma Lodge (52nd).